News (USA)

Supreme Court tells anti-trans parents to kiss off

The pride flag flies outside the US Supreme Court
The pride flag flies outside the US Supreme Court Photo: Scott Drake

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by three Maryland parents who accused the Montgomery Country School District of helping transgender kids transition without parental knowledge.

The court ruled the parents lacked legal standing to challenge the district’s pro-trans policies because the policies didn’t affect their own children. As such, the policies will remain in place while the Republican-leaning high court delays ruling on the such policies’ overall constitutionality.

The parents sued over district guidelines, implemented in 2020, that allow schools to create support plans for trans students while “respect[ing] the students’ wishes to keep certain information confidential” from their parents.

The parents said the guidelines are “expressly designed to circumvent parental involvement in a pivotal decision affecting [their children’s] care, health education, and future,” The Washington Times reported. The parents also claimed that the policy would allow children “to transition socially to a different gender identity at school without parental notice or consent.”

The parents also said the district’s guidelines violate the Maryland Declaration of Rights provision allowing adults to “direct the care, custody, education, welfare, safety, and control of their minor children” as well as the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment assuring due legal process for all citizens.

While the district policy allows students to use the pronouns and gendered facilities of their choosing, it doesn’t authorize the school to provide any other sorts of gender-affirming medical or mental health care.

Mark Eckstein, chair of the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations’ LGBTQ subcommittee, said that some parents are opposed to the guidelines because there isn’t a lot of case law on the subject, Bethesda Magazine wrote.

“The ideal situation is to get the parents and child together and get everyone on the same page, but when that doesn’t happen, for whatever reason, it creates conflict,” Eckstein told the magazine. “But you do have a lot of instances where a child is out at school, but not at home. It’s not easy whatever way you cut it. Even if everyone is at their best, it’s a complicated situation.”

This isn’t the first time the district has experienced a legal challenge from conservative parents.

In mid-May, a federal appeals court ruled that religious parents in the district can’t opt their kids out of classroom lessons involving LGBTQ+-inclusive books.

Three sets of parents – who are Muslim, Jewish, and Christian – sued the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), arguing that the books “contradict their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage, human sexuality, and gender.” The parents said that forcing their kids to attend lessons on the books violated their First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion.

The three-member appeals court panel upheld a lower court decision, saying that the parents failed to demonstrate how the books would be used in the lessons. The parents were represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, an anti-LGBTQ+ legal advocacy organization that has promised to appeal the court’s decision.

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